Barwell 1 Hitchin Town 2

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Southern League 2022-23

Kirkby Road4 Newlands Rd, Barwell, Leicester LE9 8AL, UK

Barwell
Hitchin Town
1 - 2
Final Score

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Happily, Hitchin dispensed with the awkward custom of losing games on the opening day of the new season. They left it until the last minute of normal time and the scrambled goal came from a melee in the goalmouth, and then in stoppage time they came close to conceding an equaliser. Needless to say it was a dramatic conclusion and three points were almost reduced to one.

There was considerable drama and controversy during the game, which really began with the dismissal of Barwell’s Kyle Rowley who had head-butted Steve Gleeson right on the cusp of half-time, with the hosts leading from a penalty goal.

Barwell took to the field in a fluorescent kit that was a kind of lime green and Hitchin sported their new purple away kit, and I place on record that I am not enamoured of the pink bits. The hosts began with a corner from their first attack, defended by Gleeson. Minutes later there was a half chance but Micah Edwards’ cross was too deep.

Hitchin’s first chance came with some combination play involving Cawley, Gleeson and Tearle but Dasilva hit the ball woefully high over the bar. At. This stage Beck-Ray Enoru began to impose himself as a veritable thorn in the hitchin side with his pace, vision and sheer energy. Although not yet considered a finished product, this player was my man of the match.

In one incident he was running on to a through ball and was only just denied by Charlie Horlock who was soon to be involved in a controversial penalty decision. A Gleeson free kick was Jonny Allotey have a shot that was saved. Tearle, playing effectively as a wing back, tried one from range and a minute later came the dramatic incident. Morrell tried in vain to head a loose ball back to Horlock, but it lacked purchase and Horlock was seen to tangle with Harding. It looked a clear penalty and Harding stayed down to emphasise matters. There was a short delay and Horlock received a caution and the penalty was confirmed. It was duly converted by Barwell skipper Brady Hickey.

It was interesting to hear some home supporters declare that Horlock had gone for the ball and that his challenge was acceptable. Others felt that the penalty decision was correct. At any rate it meant that Hitchin had to improve their game somewhat and this they did. Perhaps the best chance came from a Tearle free-kick wide on the right that proved rather difficult for defenders who did eventually clear the ball. Harding had a token shot and proved to be a little too vulnerable to challenges since he appeared to go down too easily. Another free-kick from Tearle provided a chance for Morrell whose shot was just inches too high. Both sides pressed when they could but the rhythm of the game was affected by number of stoppages for free-kicks.

We appeared to be heading to the interval without undue incident when Kyle Rowley had a rush of blood and clearly head-butted Gleeson in a moment of transgression involving several players. Since the action had been clearly witnessed we were a little surprised that the referee needed a long discussion with one of the assistants. But when he reached for the back pocket we all know what card resides there and a seemingly impenitent Rowley departed for the dressing room. It may have been the last minute of normal time for the half but we were not done yet as a good few minutes were added on and right at the end there was a chance for Cawley who met the cross but flicked the ball over the bar.

There was a keen discussion about the penalty incident and the dismissal but it seems to me that the correct decisions were made. The other point discussed was how Barwell would organise their ten men for the second half. It came as no surprise that they rejected the idea of sitting on a fragile lead and to their credit they pushed forward when opportunities permitted.

Two minutes into the half Hitchin drew level with a memorable strike just forward of the half-way line from Jack Morrell. It was greeted with especial glee by Hitchin supporters and it evoked memories of the last time these teams met at this ground. On that occasion, a severe wintry evening, Hitchin were leading 1-0 but succumbed to two such long range goals. The Hitchin goal today was all the more special since it was not wind-assisted and of course, it provided them with the initiative, which they were a little late in exploiting. It was interesting that this equaliser came after a failed Barwell attack on the right and it was a loose ball that fell to Morrell.

It is often the case that the team reduced numerically can play as if they had an extra man. Barwell made just one concession insofar as they did not leave the usual forward player in the centre circle when facing a corner. They came very close to scoring, right up to the final whistle. I will add that they nearly scored one for Hitchin when Melis Bushaj routinely passed back to keeper Wycherley who was caught off guard by its rate of movement, but embarrassment was just prevented. As Captain Bertorelli often said, ‘what a mistake-a to make-a.’

Hitchin began to improve their attacking play and Barker had a decent header saved in one fine move. This followed a corner won by Cawley. At the other end there was a similar incident when man of the match Enoru saw his header saved, following very good assistance from Hickey. An optimistic long range effort from Barker seemed to indicate that the visitors felt that the points, plural, were there for the taking but it was not so easy. Repeated efforts finished namely and the hosts were eager to counter attack, since they felt that a win was not beyond them.

Morell’s next effort took a bounce and a deflection before nestling within Wycherley’s gloves. Barwell’s Brogan seized on a poor clearance and his shot tested Horlock, who tipped the effort over the cross bar. The hard working Stan Georgiou in a forward move aimed to pick out Barker, but it was just cut out. Substitute Ackom Delsin, who slotted into the Tearle role quite well, won a corner from a deflected cross. This corner was fortuitous, and Gleeson sent in a beauty – one of those that causes mayhem in the goal area with bodies everywhere seemingly frozen in time and yet moving. Barwell were desperate to clear but it was, apparently, Finley Wilkinson whose boot connected and thus snatched the winning goal in the last minute of normal time. I say apparently because it was so congested I could not make out who scored and neither could those around me.

The announcer, after some delay tentatively attributed the goal to Jack Morrell as an inspired guess. Those of you who have undertaken announcing duties will understand the delay, and the guess. I was told later that related websites attributed the goal to substitute Wilkinson so well done that man.

But it was not over yet, since there were the usual seemingly endless minutes added on where, if you were a home supporter you will consider that Barwell were a little unlucky not to snatch a point. They tried hard enough, snatching at free kicks and causing their own spot of chaos in the Hitchin penalty area, where Horlock dived on the ball, shielding it from the eager boots of Barwell players looking for the slightest error.

One very late free kick saw a despairing shot go over the bar and that proved to be the last opportunity for the hosts who had seen their lead eradicated by a great long range goal, before going behind at a critically late stage. Even so, those ten men had performed well for a whole half.

Three points for Hitchin had not been generally expected, and I did hear one or two before the game saying that a draw would do nicely. Of course a win, and away from home is better and before the opening home game against Rushall Olympic there is the lately arranged friendly away at Biggleswade Town, which will give additional match time for a number of players who are not yet at the optimum level of fitness or have yet to acclimatise harmoniously with new team mates.

So, a somewhat dramatic start to the new season but with too many cautions for my liking. See you at Biggleswade.

BARWELL
Andrew Wycherley, Micah Edwards, Melis Bushaj, Roger Lee, (Dom Brown-Hill, 79, cautioned), Kyle Rowley, dismissed, straight red card, 44 minutes, Herve Pepe-Nyoman, home selection for man of the match, Beck-Ray Enoru, this reporter’s man of the match, Max Brogan, Michael Harding, (Tiago Nassunculo, 60), Brady Hickey, captain, PENALTY GOAL 27 MINUTES, Christopher Camwell, (Deen Master, 46).Unused substitutes- Max Bramley and William Warren.

HITCHIN TOWN
Charlie Horlock, captain, cautioned, 25, Kye Tearle, cautioned, 44, (Delsin Ackom, 73,) Malaki Black, Jack Green, Stan Georgiou, Jack Morrell, GOAL, 47 MINUTES, mentioned in despatches, Lewis Barker, cautioned,53, Steve Gleeson, cautioned, 25, Rio Dasilva, Steve Cawley, (Sam Meakes, 87), Jonny Allotey, (Finley Wilkinson, 61, GOAL, 89 MINUTES).

Substitutes not used – Callum Kane and Bradley Bell.

Referee- Mr Kurt Bartlett, assisted by Mr Matthew Broadhurst and Mr Ian Croston.

Attendance 337

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Competition Season
Southern League 2022-23